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5 amazing books about China to read this summer

From sci-fi to self-help, we've got you covered

Credit: Flickr/Sam Greenhalgh

Headed to the beach this summer? Make sure you pack one of these books with you! From the best Chinese sci-fi to ancient philosophical self-help, we’ve got five page-turners for your carry-on.


Invisible Planets, edited by Ken Liu

Chinese sci-fi is undeniably on the rise (even Obama has read Liu Cixin’s The Three-Body Problem). What better way to get in on it than reading the first English-language collection of contemporary Chinese sci-fi? Brought to us by the same translator who brought us The Three-Body Problem, this collection offers a mix of short stories from familiar and unfamiliar writers, from Liu Cixin to Hao Jingfang, author of Hugo-Award-winning 'Folding Beijing'. Dragon-horse robots, programmed rats – it’s all in here.


Travels Through Dali With a Leg of Ham, Zhang Mei

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With a leg of cured meat as unlikely focal point, Zhang Mei, founder of the award-winning sustainable travel company WildChina, meditates on the unique culture and traditions of her hometown of Dali, Yunnan. Accompanied by Elizabeth Phung’s beautiful photos of Yunnan and its food, the book is both travelogue and cookbook and will inspire your summer wanderlust.


Once Upon a Time in the East: A Story of Growing Up, Xiaolu Guo

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Once upon a time, a young orphan girl lived with her grandparents in a remote fishing village. So begins Xiaolu Guo's life in her incredible autobiography, which follows the twists and turns of her journey from the village to film school in Beijing and finally to her career as an acclaimed writer and filmmaker in London. Reviews have compared the book to the likes of Jung Chang’s legendary Wild Swans. While Guo’s memoir doesn’t span multiple generations like Wild Swans, it’s a heart-wrenchingly personal story of modern Chinese history.


The Path: What Chinese Philosophers Can Teach Us About the Good Life, Michal Puett and Christine Gross-Loh

All of us could use some ancient Chinese wisdom on how to live better, at least according to this guide to getting the most out of our time on the planet. Michael Puett, Harvard professor of Chinese history, teamed up with writer Christine Gross-Loh to show us how classical thinkers like Confucius and Zhuangzi can be brought to bear on the day-to-day of modern life. The bestselling book is based on Puett’s undergraduate course in classical Chinese philosophy, one of the most popular courses at Harvard.


The Borrowed, Chan Ho-kei

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Forget about the heat by transporting yourself to dark, gritty Hong Kong and following the career of legendary detective Kwan Chun-dok in reverse chronological order, from present-day head of the police force’s intelligence division to field investigator in the '60s. It’s the perfect complex crime thriller to chew on this summer, complete with terrorist bombing plots and gangsters.

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